Back in his playing years, Daniel Corona was eager to win a Cal South State Cup or National Cup Championship. However, he wasn’t so lucky, always finishing in the Quarter or Semifinal Round. He was witness to the pain and disappointment that many of his teammates, as well as himself, felt for falling short of the championship.
On his first year as coach of Aztecs FC in the Cal South State Cup Governors Division, Corona didn’t want to have his players re-live the moments he had when he played in State Cup, so he did everything he could to get the players prepared for the toughest tournament they would play.
As each game progressed, so did the team and their confidence. After a tough Semifinal match that went to penalty kicks, Aztecs FC finished strong in the Championship match, coming away with a 4-0 win over SCYSO FC.
“[Winning State Cup] was my goal from the beginning,” Coach Corona said after the game. “I told them, ‘we got a team to win it, we’re going to win it. I’m not taking anything less than the championship.’ I think I got it set in their minds that we had a championship team. I think that’s what did it, they’re mentality changed. At first, they were hesitant but after the first game, they told me, ‘We’re winning this, we’re going to win the State Cup.’ The belief they had in themselves, that was what did it.”
The journey to a State Cup Championship didn’t just start a month ago. The journey started eight months ago as the team came together, training two to three times a week, and having a strong preseason that would include match ups against tougher, older and bigger teams. Despite the hardships encountered, the players encouraged each other to continue and fight, and in the end, it all paid off.
“It was hard, our fields don’t have lights, so we’re practicing in the dark,” coach Corona said. “The parents would go with their flashlights in their cameras and go and try to light us up as much as possible. We did what we could.